It’s pretty dark out there. At least, that’s what you’ll see if you tune into the news for a few minutes. It can render one despondent. And, that’s incredibly dangerous.
There’s a few things to understand with regard to the mechanics of information disseminated to you. First, all media is in business for profit. The profit comes from ad revenue, and the price points for ads are dictated by viewership. Viewership is artificially high at the moment because we, the America public, are largely a captive audience. The other way viewership rises is by use of controversy and fear. 2020 has been pumping that out on a regular basis.
Next, public enemy number one. What’s that? Twitter. It is, in my opinion, the one thing that is absolutely destroying everything in this country. It’s the true root of all evil at this troubled moment in American history. First, the most obvious. Our leader uses the app relentlessly to peddle God knows what to his tens of millions of followers, and for all the world to see. He has this right, and we do, too. But, there’s one problem. Words without context distort the message. Words without verbal cues further the confusion. Well, we get this daily, albeit almost hourly, from the most important man in the world. It is, and always has been a recipe for disaster.
The bigger problem with Twitter is the more complicated one that is often overlooked, or better said, overshadowed because our President sucks up all the air in the room. Twitter, by use of Trump, or the media as a whole, controls the narrative. While Trump isn’t succeeding in hammering home the day’s headlines, other stories ‘go viral.’ What exactly does that mean? Think of it like this. A mere 22% of the American public use Twitter. Now, before I continue, it’s important to note that the stat seeks out ‘active users’ which many believe is an inflated number as is. The number is likely below 20%. In contrast, at least 70% of Americans actively use Facebook and YouTube. 37% use Instagram. In fact, Pinterest, Snapchat, and LinkedIn are used by more Americans than Twitter.
Why am I telling you these stats? Because, Twitter squarely controls the media narrative, regardless of where the respective outlet falls on the political spectrum. So, the social media platform that is sixth in line somehow dictates nearly all of the headlines we consume. Why is that? The people who work in media are lazy, and Twitter panders directly to their laziness. Don’t believe me? Follow Twitter for a week. Check the trends throughout the day. Watch what happens 24 hours from each trend. An article is written about the story, followed by a segment on TV, and occasionally a large segment where the issue at hand is debated. Insert the controversy and fear. It starts from Twitter, an app used by likely 20% of America, goes ‘viral,’ and is picked up by every media outlet to enhance viewership. It’s a vicious cycle that’s been going on for years.
Now, two offshoots to this premise. First, what decides whose Tweets ‘go viral’ and start to trend? Twitter tells us the algorithms. As someone who’s spent a lot of time monitoring the trends on the app, I find it hard to believe that this wonderful [unbiased] algorithm innocently dictates the topics of the day. Why is that? Well, the topics consistently trend in the same direction. Taking out folks on the right, shaming people through the use of a thirty-second video clip, or criticizing anyone or any entity for not adhering to ‘the mob.’
The mob is something we’ve heard a lot about lately. But, who is this ‘mob?’ Well, on it’s best day, the mob is the 20% of Americans sitting on Twitter that clearly have a left-leaning bias. On it’s worst day, the mob is who/what Twitter tells us we should go after, and direct anger towards. Now, here’s the main problem. Nearly 60% of Americans voted in the last election, but again, 20% of Americans use Twitter. So, three times the amount of Americans showed up to exercise their right to vote when compared with the number of people dictating the news stories of the day. Voila. There’s your problem.
Let’s extrapolate this a little. Why is it a problem? Well, this is how boycotts happen. This is how things get ‘canceled.’ This is how people are losing their jobs. This is what’s dictating public perception. The ‘mob’ of keyboard warriors, or Twitter bots, depending on how cynical you want to be, is speaking for the masses. They get items trending, elevate it in its faux-appearance, spread it to the media outlets, and control the news cycle for a few hours, or days. This is a tremendous problem. For one, it’s completely distorting the actual tone on the ground. It’s misrepresenting the American people. That’s a huge problem. Companies, and political parties are acting on these headlines that the media tells us are the defining stories of the day. But, it is entirely missing the mark. That furthers the divide in America, and creates a path where politicians, and companies make choices that directly impact our lives based on inaccurate data that is disproportionately elevating a cause or issue. It’s a total mess.
What is to be done about this? Turn off the news. Stop clicking. Stop viewing. Next, do some writing. Write to these organizations that the stories they are putting on the air are not representing the lives and concerns of you, or those you know. Until they lose viewers, and hear from ‘silent majorities,’ they will continue to go to the well. It’s been working for them this long, so why would they stop? They will only stop if you tell them you’ve had enough. This really isn’t a problem isolated to the left, or the right. It isn’t a Trump or Biden issue. This should be something that unites the majority of us. After all, 80% of us aren’t using Twitter. So, why should four out of five of us consume information that the one person deemed newsworthy?
In conclusion, separating yourself from the topics of the day will wildly improve your mental health. Go and read books. Consume information through documentaries. Validate facts and seek out material that will enhance your life. That’s how you can move forward from here. We’ve all become prisoners of the moment. Some of us have already ripped the band-aids off and broke up with the news once we got roped back in this March. Most of us are still being held captive. Final piece of advice. Don’t put your head in the sand. Still check a few headlines, and occasionally read a piece that seems to actively educate you to facts, and not opinion. Aside from that, go better your life through literature that doesn’t focus on adding subjective bias into your life based on the stories of the day.